Mar 24, 2020
Andrew Cuomo Coronavirus Briefing March 24: Governor Criticizes FEMA, Says Curve Isn’t Flattening in Fiery Conference
Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York gave a press briefing on March 24, saying that New York has not flattened the curve in regards to COVID-19. He demanded drastic federal government action, telling FEMA, “You pick the 26k people who are going to die” from lack of ventilators. Read the full news briefing right here.
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Andrew Cuomo: (00:00)
Six weeks. We are your future and what we do here will chart the course for what we do in your city and in your community. I’m not asking you to help New York just to help New York. I’m asking you to help New York to help yourselves. Let’s learn how to do it right and let’s learn how to do it right here and let’s learn how to act as one nation and let’s learn how to act as one nation here. We learn the lesson here, we will save lives in your community. I promise you that.
Andrew Cuomo: (00:42)
We’re delivering supplies that we’ve been able to purchase. Today, New York City has had a critical problem. I spoke to Mayor de Blasio. He’s right. He had a critical problem on PPE, gowns, masks, et cetera. The equipment we’re bringing today will resolve that immediate need. There’ll be no hospital in the city of New York who will say today their nurses, their doctors can’t get equipment and we’re addressing that need, not just for New York City, but also for Long Island in Westchester. We have acquired everything on the market there is to acquire. We’ve had a full team purchasing from companies all across this globe, buying everything that can be purchased and we’re bringing that here to distribute to New York City, Long Island, Westchester, because that is the greatest need.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:38)
This number of supplies will take care of our immediate need. It does not take care of the need going forward, three, four, five, six weeks. The burn rate on this equipment is very, very high. I can’t find any more equipment. It’s not a question of money. I don’t care what you’re willing to pay. You just can’t find the equipment now, but this will take care of the immediate need. I don’t want our healthcare workers who are doing God’s work; they are doing God’s work. Can you imagine the nurses who leave their homes in the morning, who kiss their children goodbye, go to a hospital, put on gowns, deal with people who have the coronavirus. They’re thinking all day long “Oh my God, I hope I don’t get this. Oh my God, I hope I don’t get this and bring this home to my children.”
Andrew Cuomo: (02:38)
You want to talk about extraordinary individuals, extraordinary. And it’s the nurses and the doctors and the healthcare workers. It’s the police officers who show up every day and go out there and walk into a situation that they don’t even know what they’re walking into. And it’s the firefighters and it’s the transportation workers, and it’s the people who are running the grocery stores and the pharmacies and providing all those essential services.
Andrew Cuomo: (03:08)
Most of us are in our home, hunkered down, worried. They’re worried and they’re going out there every day despite their fear. Despite their fear, overcoming their fear, and not for their family. They’re doing it for your family. When you see them on the street, when you see them in a hospital, please just say thank you and smile and say, “I know what you’re doing.” What happens? All these facts, all these numbers. Am I strong in my language vis-a-vis the federal government? Yes, I am. But what happens at the end of the day? What does it all mean? That’s what people want to know. What does it all mean? What it all means is what we said it all means the first day this started.
Andrew Cuomo: (04:11)
The first day I went before the people of New York state and I said, “I’m going to tell you the truth. I’m going to tell you the facts the way I know it.” Those facts have not changed. Those facts are not going to change. This is not a new situation. We’ve watched this through China. There are hundreds of thousands of cases. 80% will self-resolve. That’s why experts say to me, tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people have had the virus, didn’t know they had it, and resolved.
Andrew Cuomo: (04:53)
That’s why we have to get that test that shows you had the virus you because you have the antibodies and you did resolve, and once we do that, that’s how you get the economy back to work. That’s how you get the backup healthcare workers. But 80% are going to self-resolve. 20% are going to need hospitals. It’s not about that. It’s about a very small group of people in this population who are the most vulnerable. They are older, they have compromised immune systems, they are HIV-positive, or they have emphysema, or they have an underlying heart condition, or they have bad asthma or they’re recovering from cancer.
Andrew Cuomo: (05:38)
Those are the people who are going to be vulnerable to the mortality of this disease, and it is only 1% or 2% of the population. But then why all of this? Because it’s 1% or 2% of the population; it’s lives. It’s grandmothers and grandfathers and sisters and brothers and you start to see the cases on TV. It’s a 40 year old woman who recovered from breast cancer but had a compromised immune system, and four children at home. That’s what this is about. It’s about a vulnerable population. I called the executive order that I passed Matilda’s Law; my mother. It’s about my mother. It’s about my mother. It’s about your mother. It’s about your loved one, and we will do anything we can to make sure that they are protected. Again, keeping it in perspective, Johns Hopkins, 387,000 cases, studied 16,000 deaths on 387,000. 100,000 recoveries worldwide; 268,000 pending.
Andrew Cuomo: (07:08)
Last point, it is about the vulnerable. It’s not about 95% of us. It’s about a few percent who are vulnerable. That’s all this is about. Bring down that anxiety, bring down that fear, bring down that paranoia. It’s not about 95% of us, and we’re going to get through it because we are New York, and because we’ve dealt with a lot of things, and because we are smart, you have to be smart to make it in New York, and we are resourceful, and we are showing how resourceful we are. Because we are united, and when you are united, there is nothing you can’t do, and because we are New York tough, we are tough, you have to be tough. This place makes you tough, but it makes you tough in a good way.
Andrew Cuomo: (08:10)
We’re going to make it because I love New York, and I love New York because New York loves you. New York loves all of you. Black and white and brown and Asian and short and tall and gay and straight. New York loves everyone. That’s why I love New York. It always has, it always will. And at the end of the day, my friends, even if it is a long day and this is a long day, love wins, always, and it will win again through this virus. Thank you.
[inaudible 00:09:03] overflow of hospitals [inaudible 00:09:07].
Andrew Cuomo: (09:09)
The preliminary plan, Zack, is it will back fill hospitals. You take the situation we’re looking at, we need ventilators, we need ICU beds. Those can only really be created in the hospital. But then you’re going to have to move people out of a hospital. Where do you put them? This facility, 1,000 beds can backfill from a hospital. This facility also has acute care capacity, but we’re not anticipating that we do acute care here. We’re anticipating that it’s a backfill for the hospital beds.
Speaker 3: (09:46)
[inaudible 00:09:46] in this crisis the older Americans are expendable [inaudible 00:09:57].
Andrew Cuomo: (10:01)
Yeah. My mother is not expandable and your mother is not expendable and our brothers and sisters, they’re not expendable and we’re not going to accept a premise that human life is disposable, and we’re not going to put a dollar figure on human life. The first order of business is save lives, period. Whatever it costs. Now, I also don’t believe it’s an either/or. I believe you can have an intelligent, refined public health strategy. They talk about risk stratification. You can have people go to work, you can test people and find out that they are resolved from the virus. Let them go back to work.
Andrew Cuomo: (10:56)
You can have younger people go back to work. You can have an economic startup strategy that is consistent with the public health strategy. It’s smart, it’s complicated, it’s sophisticated, but that’s what government is supposed to do, right? That whole concept of develop government policy and program. You can do both, but not in a clumsy ham-handed way. Right? Well, we’ll just sacrifice old people. They’re old people anyway, and the old get left behind. What is this, some modern Darwinian theory of natural selection? You can’t keep up so the band is going to leave you behind. We’re going to move on, and if you can’t keep up, well, then you just fall by the wayside of life. God forbid.
Governor, I noticed you didn’t mention President Trump by name today. You mentioned federal government, you mentioned Secretary Gazier are, I wonder if you could tell us [inaudible 00:12:02] they seem very dug in. Peter Navarro. Larry Kudlow are telling them not to do this. They say they’ve got their own supply chain stabilization board with the staff general [inaudible 00:12:18].
Andrew Cuomo: (12:17)
Yeah, yeah, yeah. People say, people say, people say politician say. Yeah, I look at actions, not words. They’re doing the supplies? Here’s my question. Where are they? Where are the ventilators? Where are the gowns? Where’s the PPEs? Where are the masks? Where are they? Where are they if they’re doing it? And by the way, Peter Navarro, well we want to work with companies, fine, work with companies. What the defense procurement act was about, the country needed materials to go to war. When we went to war, we didn’t say, “Any company out there want to build a battle battleship? Who wants to build a battleship? Maybe a couple of you guys could get together and build a battleship. Maybe a couple of you guys could get together and build us some missiles, maybe you think? Anybody want to build a plane? We’re going to need planes. They’re sending planes at us and they’re dropping bonds. Anybody want to do that?”
Andrew Cuomo: (13:22)
That’s not how you did it. President said, “It’s a war.” It is a war. Well then act like it’s a war and it’s not anti-business. Nobody’s talking about changing the governmental philosophy. By the way, the businesses would welcome it. I speak to the businesses. You know what they say, “I’ll do it, but I need startup capital. I can’t turn my factory overnight into a ventilator manufacturing company. I have to buy equipment. I have to find personnel. I have a lot of startup capital. Will you give me the startup capital? Will you give me an order that says if I go through all this, you will buy X number of units?” It’s actually a pro-business mentality, not an anti-business mentality. This is a false distinction.
Andrew Cuomo: (14:14)
Well, we don’t want to tell business what to do. That’s our philosophy. We don’t want to tell business what to do. You know what business wants? They want to make money. That’s what they want. They want to put people to work. They want to open their factory, they want to make money. Let them open their factory and make money. Help them do that by ordering the supplies you need. It’s a war. You’re right. Say, “Zack, you’re building battleships. Here’s your contract. God bless you.” That’s what the defense procurement act was all about. And at the rate they are going, it is not happening. FEMA says, “We’re sending 400 ventilators.” Really? What am I going to do with 400 ventilators when I need 30,000? You pick the 26,000 people who are going to die because you only sent 400 ventilators.
Speaker 4: (15:12)
Andrew Cuomo: (15:24)
You asked where’s the federal government? What do I know? I don’t know. Their answer is we don’t need to do it because companies are coming forward who want to do it, and by the way, I am sure that is true. It’s just the timeline doesn’t work. I don’t need ventilators in six months, and I don’t need ventilators in five months, four months or three months. And by the way, California is not going to need ventilators in six months. It is now. So you’re asking a business to produce what is a sophisticated piece of electronic equipment, a ventilator, and to do it in 14 days. That’s an enormous undertaking. They can’t do that on a voluntary basis. If you use the defense procurement act, DPA, then you say, “I’ll pay for it. I’ll give you the startup capital, I’ll fund you buying the equipment, I’ll fund you hiring workers.”
Andrew Cuomo: (16:32)
Otherwise it doesn’t work on a normal business timetable, and the businesses want to know, look, if I go through all of this, somebody has to buy 40,000 ventilators. Ventilator is on average, 20, 25,000 dollars per ventilator. This is an expensive item. Nobody’s going to build 40,000 ventilators unless they know someone is buying 40,000 ventilators and that’s what the federal government can give them. With a DPA, I buy 40,000 ventilators, caveat, they have to be here in 21 days. And then use them here. We hit the apex first. I will transport them anywhere you want in the country. I’m not asking you to give us 40,000 ventilators [inaudible 00:17:25].
Andrew Cuomo: (17:27)
Address the curve here, and then that curve is going to be going all across the country. You hear what I’m saying here today? You’re going to have the governor of California several weeks from now saying the same thing. You’re going to have the governor of Illinois saying the same thing. The governor of the state of Washington saying the same thing. Do it right here. We’re just the first case. We’re just the first template. Do it right here and then we’ll move the goods. I’ll move the professionals. I’ll move the doctors and the nurses who can say, “We can teach you how to do this because we went through it. We saw this in New York.” We can actually help one another. That’s smart. That’s right. That’s the American way.
Speaker 3: (18:13)
Andrew Cuomo: (18:37)
I spoke to the mayor this morning. I spoke to the mayor yesterday. Whatever need he has, we’ll figure out how to address. You have a lot of situations that develop here that just nobody, no one could have expected. Right? These are unchartered waters for all of us, but that’s why I said. Resourceful. Smart. We’re quick on our feet. We’re agile. What’s the problem? We figured out how to solve it. We’ll do it together.
Andrew Cuomo: (19:09)
I haven’t even thought about it, Zack.
Speaker 5: (19:10)
All right guys, [inaudible 00:19:13].
Speaker 6: (19:13)
When will this facility be ready, and is it 1,000 or 2,000 beds, and also say how many military [inaudible 00:19:20].
Andrew Cuomo: (19:21)
Multi-part question. There are two different types of facilities here. One is an emergency hospital, four separate components, 250 each equaling 1,000 in an emergency hospital that could be used for acute care. There’s a second facility, if you will, which is 1,000 beds. It’s a lower level of medical care for people who don’t need as intense service, but let me ask the general. Pat, is that … Do you want to comment on that Pat or General Shields?
General Pat: (19:59)
What the governor provided was exactly what it is, is the first phase-
Andrew Cuomo: (20:04)
[inaudible 00:20:04] mic.
General Pat: (20:06)
The first phase of the build out is the 1,000 beds from a health and human services that comes in with the kit. We lay medical professionals over the top of that. We go to phase two. We continue to build out bed capacity so that we can provide a little higher level of care potentially as we move forward. But we have an immediate level, and then there’s a third phase that we continue to build out beds in the facility to get to the capacity that the governor’s getting after, which does not address the entire number but starts in that path and then the other strategies to go along with it. So we expect in the end to be above 2,000, but the basic number is 1,000 and 1,000, and and we’re working towards being above that number by the time we’re done dressing it out
Speaker 3: (21:01)
Andrew Cuomo: (21:03)
Excuse me one second. The hospitals will be staffed by federal medical personnel for the 250 bed … Four 250 bed facilities, the 1,000, about 320 medical federal personnel.
Speaker 3: (21:22)
You talked about restarting the economy in a smart way by putting younger, healthier people who have been tested for the antibody back into the workforce. Realistically, how soon could a test for that coronavirus antibody be ready and be used on that scale?
Andrew Cuomo: (21:39)
They’re working on it now. You don’t have a hard answer now. I know they’re working on it now. They’re developing it. It’s a fairly simple test. I’m not a medical … It’s only testing your blood for those antibodies. Right? So it’s a fairly simple test. I don’t have an answer but I can get you an estimate, but let me just … Because these all come back to the same point. The reason I’ve always said to New Yorkers relax, is because this is not a major issue for 95, 96, 97, 98% of the population. It’s only those vulnerable people, one or 2% of the population.
Andrew Cuomo: (22:23)
This conversation about the economy, your question, blunt and jarring in its bluntness. Well, if we’re only talking about one or 2% of the population and they are old and they’re vulnerable and they’re sick anyway, well, then why stop the economy? How much are we paying for this one or 2%? They’re old, they’re vulnerable, they’re going to die anyway. Why stop the train for the one or 2%? it’s the same point that I’ve been saying on 90% of the people are going to be fine. Don’t worry unless you’re in that vulnerable category, and then take a high level of precaution
Andrew Cuomo: (23:11)
But we’re not willing to sacrifice that one or 2%, we’re not willing to do that. That is not who we are. It’s not what we are. It’s not what we believe. We are going to fight every way we can to save every life that we can, because that’s what I think it means to be an American. I know that’s what it means to be a New Yorker, so I’m not going to leave any stone unturned until we can make sure everyone is protected. That’s what I was trying to communicate by calling it Matilda’s law. Right? That’s why I give it my mother’s name. She didn’t want me to give it her name. She’s a little annoyed at me, but I wanted to personalize it for people. That’s what we’re told. Yes. It’s only one or 2%, don’t worry. Go live your life. It’s only one or 2%, but the one or 2% is Matilda and Sally and Jane and Sarah and your uncle and my uncle, and they are precious and I’m not giving up. I am not giving up.
Speaker 3: (24:44)
Andrew Cuomo: (24:48)
No. Look, if lightning strikes … Look, I agree. First of all, I agree with the president. Try everything you can. I agree. He said he had heard good things about that drug combination. So had I, I said, “Send it to me. I will use it first. As soon as you send it to me, I will use it.” He sent it to me. I’m using it today. Knock plastic. If it works, great, great. But we’re talking about two weeks here. If it doesn’t work … And by the way, even if it does work, you’re still going to need the beds for people to be on a ventilator while you give them the drug, even if it turns out that it winds up saving their lives. You don’t get around needing the hospital beds and needing the ventilators. I have to go to work guys. Thank you very much. Thank you.
Speaker 6: (25:53)
Andrew Cuomo: (26:06)
I would have to check exactly what projects they’re doing. I don’t know. But if you tell me what projects I will check. Thank you. Be safe.
Speaker 8: (26:19)
[inaudible 00:26:19] are you going to enforce that only essential workers take the subway?
Andrew Cuomo: (26:24)
Speaker 8: (26:25)
Andrew Cuomo: (26:26)
Ridership on the subway is down about 75%. So the trains are operating and they have many, many fewer people than ever before. So down about 75% on the subways, and it’s down about 85% on the commuter rail. Thank you.
Speaker 5: (26:46)
Thank you everybody. Thank you. Thank you.